Archive for August, 2009

I Can Has Compiz

Please forgive the LOLcats speak. I couldn’t be happier. I just got an eVGA (Nvidia knock-off) GeForce 8400 GS.

I did not expect my switch to the most modern graphics card my computer will accept, to do anything other than make Compiz possible for me. It did that, and more! For some reason, the nvidia-glx-185 driver works perfectly with my new card, but kept giving me fits with the old one. I dutifully reported my problems to, but that did not get me that much closer to a working system.

With the new graphics card, my computer is acting like its old self. I can run more than one program at a time (for instance, Firefox and Synaptic Package Manager). My mouse cursor is working properly. And along with all of this, I now can use Compiz!

I am a little leery of trying out all of Compiz’ many features yet. The last time I tried to run Compiz and the BOINC manager, my computer froze up. Now, I am running both of them just fine. The worst part is, because Nvidia is now on its 9 series, the 8400 GS was cheaper than my 6600 was a year and a half ago.

My son doesn’t understand my fascination with eye candy. For him, computers are for gaming. Period. For me, computers are the game. I love to try out new things and see how they work (or sometimes don’t). Games are just an extra benefit. 🙂

Ubuntu One

Ubuntu One shipped with Karmic Koala, Alpha 4. It is a storage service that is in the cloud. With it, you can store important files on the main server. Other people you are working with can access the files. You can keep your personal copy in sync. Two gigabytes of storage come free if you wish to try it out, or – like me – don’t have a whole lot of “mission-critical” files that would cause you a heart attack if they got lost.

I am somewhat used to working in the cloud. GMail allows you to archive important e-mails – those containing keys to proprietary software, for instance – on a main server so that you won’t lose them if something happens to your computer.

You access Ubuntu One on your computer via Applications >> Internet >> Ubuntu One. I found, since Karmic is in Alpha and Ubuntu One is in Beta, I could not subscribe through that route, but had to go to However, subscribing there was very easy. They have the 2 gig plan for free, of course, but they also have a 10 gigabyte plan for $10 per month.

Once you start up Ubuntu One on your computer, you will get an icon in your notification area on the top right side of your screen. If you click on it, you get a file browser window showing your personal files and the ones you wish to share. There is also a button to connect to the main Ubuntu One server.

I have signed up for the free subscription. People in small businesses may wish to consider the upgrade. If you are in a small business, though, you may want to wait for the Karmic Beta or choose to download the Ubuntu One software onto your stable version. I had some problems that I believe are due to the Karmic Alpha and not to Ubuntu One.

Temporary Problems with Scribefire

As you may know, I have been testing alphas for Karmic Koala (Ubuntu 9.10). This has run me into a problem. When the alpha was upgraded to Firefox 3.5, I lost the use of my cursor.

I normally use the Firefox add-on, Scribefire. Since I can’t click on the icon Scribefire sets up at the bottom of the page, I am now temporarily using gnome-blog. This can be installed with the command

sudo apt-get install gnome-blog

and it is easy to use. However, I won’t be able to add images until the problem is fixed. (I have already fussed to

Karmic Alpha 4 was released yesterday. It is a massive improvement over Karmic Alpha 3. I still can’t blog and surf the web at the same time, but (with the help of alt – key combinations and tabs) I can do quite a lot. I just didn’t know that when they said, “this should not be used on production machines,” they meant mine. 😉

Ubuntu Tweak has now added an upgrade for Karmic – for testing purposes. This means a full version is just around the corner. I will be happy to have this upgrade, since it will point to the latest and greatest repositories set up for Karmic.

One addition to my blog on the shiki and arc themes: the best way to install them is to type at the terminal,

sudo apt-get install arc-colors shiki-colors

(and then, of course, you can enjoy the themes you get.)

If you are considering testing, please don’t be scared off by the problems I am having right now. I have an Nvidia 6600 graphics card and a monitor with a weird resolution (1440 x 900). I think I am testing every odd path that the developers didn’t think of getting to. 😉

Ubuntu Sources List Generator

The Ubuntu Sources List Generator is a new way of generating sources to add to your /etc/apt/sources.list file, or add to System > Administration > Software Sources. You select your country, your release (Hardy, Intrepid, Jaunty or Karmic) and the repositories you wish to include. If you are using this to replace your sources.list file instead of cutting and pasting, you will want to make sure you include all of the Ubuntu branches you want – main, restricted, universe, multiverse, security and recommended updates – and I recommend the backports repository. If you are running a stable version of Ubuntu you may not want to include the proposed – pre-release updates because these are for testing and may cause some breakage.

Here is the home page for the Ubuntu Sources List Generator.

Here is the list I received after I put in my own preferences, including Medibuntu and the regular Google Linux repository.

Ubuntu Tweak has also been updated. The Third Party Sources section has been made more usable. (I don’t have any screenshots because this section has not yet been made available for Karmic, Ubuntu 9.10, which I am testing.

The number of PPA sources – the latest and greatest for the individual software packages – is increasing. Ubuntu Tweak includes many of the popular PPA sources. Until now, there has been a problem – what happens if one source depends on another, or conflicts with another?

In Ubuntu Tweak 0.4.8, these problems are taken care of. For example, if you want to use the latest version of Midori (a light-weight browser), Ubuntu Tweak will notify you that it depends on the WebKitGtk source. If you choose, you will be able to enable both WebKitGtk and Midori.

Another warning dialog will show if you try to use a source that conflicts with one that has already been enabled. For example, Skype and Medibuntu repositories both supply the Skype application. You won’t be allowed to enable both of them.

Ubuntu Tweak 0.4.8 also includes several new PPA sources:

Liferea (an RSS reader);

Gnome Colors (A set of themes and icons);

Ibus 1.2 (input method);

vlc 1.0 (a great media player);

Christine (a new media player);

Empathy (instant messenger);

smplayer (another media player based on Mplayer); and

VirtualBox OSE (Open source edition).

I can hardly wait for Ubuntu Tweak to be updated to work with Karmic! The version for Jaunty works with Karmic but does not allow access to the Jaunty repositories, understandably.

The new Karmic Alpha, Alpha 4, is due out on August 13. Here is where you can still get Karmic Alpha 3, if you should decide you want the latest and greatest and are willing to risk breakage. I have been pleasantly surprised at how well the third alpha has been working. That said, it is not advised for production machines.


August 2009

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